Red Phalarope
(Phalaropus fulicarius)


Picture of bird
© Glen Tepke (
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Red Phalarope breeds in tundra wetlands across the circumpolar Arctic and is widely distributed in the High Arctic of northern Canada. It winters at sea off the Pacific coast of North and South America, and the west coast of Africa. Because it breeds and winters in remote and inaccessible areas, little is known of its population status. With such a large percentage of the global breeding population, Canada's responsibility for the Red Phalarope is very high. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaData DeficientData DeficientData Deficient

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada> 1,000,000 adults (includes birds breeding and migrating within Canada)

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaVery High

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between early June and mid-June and ends in mid-July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

Like many surface-feeding marine birds, Red Phalaropes frequently ingest plastic garbage and may suffer a variety of negative effects as a result (Tracy et al. 2002, Drever et al. 2018). High-density flocks are susceptible to oil spills during migration. The species is adversely affected by oil development on the breeding grounds in the United States, where increases in predator abundance reduce nest survival of phalaropes near development sites (Liebezeit et al. 2009). Mining development in northern Canada continues to increase, and the Mackenzie Delta may see significant oil development in the future. Red Phalaropes are also vulnerable to climate change, specifically increases in sea temperature, which may cause preferred prey to move away from major upwelling zones (such as the outer Bay of Fundy) that bring these prey to the surface. Climate change may also affect the timing of breeding; in some areas, the timing at which the species lays its eggs has advanced (Liebezeit et al. 2014). More work is needed following the species at sea to further inform conservation and management plans (Hunnewell et al. 2016).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Arctic Plains and MountainsArctic Plains and Mountains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Other
Atlantic Northern ForestsAtlantic Northern Forests, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
Scotian ShelfScotian Shelf, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NB -- Other
Scotian ShelfScotian Shelf, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NS -- Other